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AAA: Teens need extra help this summer to survive the ‘100 Deadliest Days’

The Shawnee News-Star

Anyone with a teenager knows that COVID-19 restrictions and the curtailing of normal summer activities is making for a challenging summer. According to AAA Oklahoma, risks for teen drivers are on the rise as we reach the mid-point of summer 2020. “Plans for camps, jobs, sports and other activities to consume their days aren’t happening for many this year,” says Leslie Gamble, AAA Oklahoma spokesperson. “Lack of activities that normally consume their days result in more time on their hands and on the road.” The potential for tragedy is real not only for teens, but those who share the road with them.

Nationwide, more than 8,300 people died in crashes involving teen drivers from 2008 to 2018 during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That’s more than seven people a day each summer. “Our data analysis has found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 16 to 17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash as compared to adults,” said Gamble. “As we reach the half-way point of this particularly dangerous summer, it’s time for parents and other caring adults to reinforce important traffic safety practices with teens and hold them accountable.”

Novice teen drivers will make mistakes with a roughly five-year learning curve estimated by AAA to achieve safe driving competency. Even the best and brightest teen drivers have an increased risk of being involved in a deadly crash compared with experienced adult drivers. That’s why adding even one reckless behavior like speeding, drinking and/or taking drugs, or distractions from passengers or mobile devices can prove deadly in a split second,” Gamble said. Some 59 percent of all teen crashes involve some form of driver inattention.

AAA Oklahoma offers these tips to help teens survive 2020’s “100 Deadliest Days”:

Model safe driving behavior. Parents and other adults can teach by example and help ensure young drivers are prepared for the responsibilities of the road. 

Have frequent, potentially life-saving conversations to set and enforce rules and discuss the risks behind the wheel.

Utilize practical tools such as the AAA Parent Coaching Guide 2020 or other resources at TeenDriving.AAA.com to minimize confrontations about expectations.

COVID-related challenges this summer multiply the need for traffic safety many times over for teens. AAA Oklahoma urges all to understanding the risks to avoid devastating consequences.